The Council of the Scottish Law Agents' Society met in the magnificent setting of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons at St Vincent Street in Glasgow on Thursday 16th December 2004 when a full schedule of business was undertaken. The Conveyancing Committee addressed various matters including the Title Conditions Act and the single survey pilot and the Court and Legal Aid Committee considered the current law reform proposals, various current legal aid problems as well as the consultation paper on the reform of Civil Advice and Assistance and the Crown Office statement on Disclosure. General Council reviewed the various committee topics and all the usual management items and President Ken Swinton announced that formal arrangements should now be put in hand for Council's proposed trip to Rome, in March 2005.
Other competent business included the report of a particularly strange conduct complaint by a non-client against a solicior which was being investigated by the Law Society and some difficulties which have arisen in connection with the completion of SDLT forms. In the latter connection, Council was advised that if a zero is entered in the second section of question 13, this will be taken as a positive response and the application is likely to be bounced for further information about the supposed linked transaction and, further, an application may be also bounced if a wrong or partial postal code is entered so that, unless known to be correct, the postal code should be omitted wherever it is requested.
Following the meeting of Council, a short reception was convened in the Alexander Room while members and guests assembled and the Christmas lunch was finally convened with a top table of President Ken Swinton and his wife, Helen, Councillor Jean McFadden of Glasgow City Council, Michael Samuel, the Dean of the Royal Faculty of Procurators in Glasgow, Christine Murray, President of Glasgow Bar Association, Mrs Janice Webster, former Secretary to the Scottish Law Agents Society and Michael Sheridan, the current Secretary. A beautiful luncheon was enjoyed by all in the most elegant surroundings followed by President Ken Swinton's glowing introduction of Councillor Jean McFadden who went on to deliver the main speech of the function. Councillor McFadden started on a light note explaining with classical and anecdotal reference why she had declined the Secretary's initial invitation to talk on classics and the law but going on to speak more seriously from a highly practical and well informed point of view, about the relationship and tensions between local government and the new Scottish Parliament, pointing out that, when the new Scottish parliament was instituted and despite assurances beforehand, there was no ring fencing of the jurisdiction of local government with the consequence that certain local functions including police, fire services and tourism were in danger of centralisation. Councillor McFadden's speech was received with enthusiastic appreciation and Vice President Craig Bennett, lapsing only occasionally into fluent Latin, called for a vote of thanks which was duly forthcoming.
As usual, this was a splendid function when members of the Society from various parts of the country, and their guests met and brought each other up to date in the relaxing magnificence of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons.